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To Major General Roy D. Keehn
November 19, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have not had a moment in which to give your letter of November 11th a careful reading until this morning.1
I appreciate your concern over my physical condition, but I do not think you need worry about it. I blew off a little steam on you, but considering the fact that this was the first time I have allowed myself that privilege in a year and a half, I think the explosion was mild. I must confess to the necessity for tremendous restrain of feeling in the light of irritating pettiness of continued pressures on me and unjustified criticisms of the War Department, at a time when we have leaned over backward in an effort to do at least the right thing, if not, I think, more than we should. We are trying to organize an army, and we are still struggling with political aspects; given enough of the latter and we are wasting our money and gravely risking the security of the United States—to put it plainly. If everything pertaining to the Army has to be put on a town meeting basis, we might as well quit before we start.
I am writing rather frankly; however, you have written with extreme frankness and if I chose to, I could be much offended but I have ignored all that, knowing you and feeling confident of your friendship for me and your genuine desire to see me make the grade.
I think if you were to occupy my chair for thirty minutes and struggle with things of vast importance to this country, and at the same time struggle with a wide variety of superficial, irritating, and prejudicial reactions, you would marvel that we go ahead as smoothly as we do.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Keehn had been unhappy with what he considered the pernicious influence of certain Illinois politicians on the Thirty-third Division and the Regular Army’s frequent refusal to view National Guard affairs in the proper perspective. He was not reluctant to communicate his views on these issues to Marshall. His letters of October 30 and November 11, for example, are largely concerned with the army’s concessionaire policies at post exchanges. Keehn recently had been elected vice-president of the National Guard Association, and on November 8 he had visited Marshall in Washington. (Keehn to Marshall, October 30, 1940, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Keehn’s letter of November 11 to Marshall began: “Frankly, George Marshall, I am a little worried about your nervousness and high tension. If you will permit a very fine friend and a older head to talk with you quietly, I would like to say—Get some rest and relaxation. You know that I know you are the smartest man in the Army, but I believe some of these boys, including Keehn’s insistence on getting the low-down, have gotten under your hide, which you cannot afford to let happen.” (Keehn to Marshall, November 11, 1940, ibid.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 351-352.